The National Association for Home Care & Hospice Calls on Congress to Support Health Care Jobs Not Medicare and Medicaid Cuts
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Barbara D. Woolley
WASHINGTON D.C. (November 17, 2011) Val J. Halamandaris, president of The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), issued the following statement in support of the numerous coalitions, organizations, and individuals rallying today in the Senate to send a message to the Congress that promoting job growth is of utmost importance to the nations economy and that cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will only harm job growth.
As the time nears for the bi-partisan supercommittee to make its recommendations on deficit reduction, it is highly important that the supercommittee members, and all members of Congress, hear the message from home care and hospice providers that the main key to the issue of deficit reduction is to grow the economy through job growth not stifle job growth with further cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Home care is a major source of jobs. Total employment in the industry increased by an average of 6.2 percent annually from 1999 to 2008 and is expected to rise by 50 percent more by 2018. Home care providers added employees in every quarter during the recent economic downturn. Statistics from the Bureau of Statistics of the U.S. Labor Department show that four of the top five most needed jobs in the coming years are in the health care industry, and more specifically, the majority of these jobs are in home health care. With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and the prospect of the over-65 population doubling in the next twenty-five years, the need for home health workers will continue to rise. Now is not the time to slow this growth.
While cuts to Medicare and Medicaid are not the answer, government can play a constructive role in the growing home health provider employment base. Government agencies should participate in training workers for the jobs that will be needed most. And this training should accompany accumulated on-the-job experience to help establish a career ladder so that a person who initially is employed as a home health aide can climb this ladder, both assisting their personal career development and providing needed advanced skills for the care they provide, to positions such as a registered nurse and a nurse practitioner. This training and the advancement to higher paying positions will also serve to encourage minority workers to enter the home health care field.
The supercommittee also needs to be cognizant as they consider cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that affect home care providers that many home care providers are small businesses. Small business is often termed the engine of growth and is crucial to creating jobs. Approximately one third of the 33,000 home care agencies in the United States are individually owned small businesses. These businesses should not only be able to operate on a level playing field but should be supported by government, through programs such as SBA loans, to ensure their success as job generators.
Home care has proven itself to be an effective way to reduce health care costs as an alternative to expensive hospitalizations. And it can now, by providing job growth, be an equally important force in improving the economy. We hope that in its deliberations, the supercommittee will recognize this.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a non-profit organization that represents the nations 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 12 million Americans each year who are infirm, chronically ill, disabled and dying. Along with its advocacy, NAHC provides information to help its members provide the highest quality of care and is committed to excellence in every respect. To learn more about NAHC visit www.nahc.org and www.caring.org.